Jeff Bezos Sued by Former Housekeeper Over Racial Bias, Long Hours

A Hispanic woman claims a manager was ‘abusive’ toward her, but a lawyer for Bezos says the claims were probed and have no merit

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com Inc.
By Matt Day
November 03, 2022 | 12:26 PM

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Bloomberg — Jeff Bezos was sued by a former housekeeper who claims she was subject to racial discrimination by his staff and forced to work long hours in unsanitary conditions without rest or meal breaks.

Mercedes Wedaa, who joined the billionaire Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) founder’s staff in September 2019, sometimes worked 10 to 14 hours a day and supervised a team of five to six housekeepers, according to her complaint filed Tuesday in Seattle state court.

Staff didn’t have a designated break room or rest area and no easily accessible restroom, according to the complaint. Housekeeping staff would try to eat in a laundry room, and were prohibited from using a toilet in a nearby security room, forcing them to climb out a window to access a bathroom, according to the complaint.

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“We’ve investigated these claims, they have no merit, and we’ll defend against them,” Harry Korrell, an attorney who represents Bezos and other defendants, said in an emailed statement.

One of Bezos’s household managers “became aggressive and abusive” with Wedaa, and treated her and other Hispanic employees differently than Bezos’s White groundskeepers and maintenance staff, she alleged. She was ultimately terminated after nearly three years of employment, according to the complaint.

“Labor and employment laws say working people must be paid for the work they perform, and must be able to perform that work in a safe, sanitary and healthy workplace,” said Patrick McGuigan, a lawyer representing Wedaa.

Wedaa seeks back pay and benefits, as well as monetary damages, according to the complaint.

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In a subsequent email, Korrell said Wedaa earned over “six figures annually,” was responsible for her own break and meal times and that she and her staff had access to several bathrooms and breakrooms.

“The evidence will show that Ms. Wedaa was terminated for performance reasons,” he said. Wedaa initially demanded over $9 million, Korrell added, “and when the company refused, she decided to file this suit.” He also said the suggestion Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, discriminated against Wedaa based on her race or national origin, was “absurd.”

Defendants in the case include Zefram LLC and Northwestern LLC, which the lawsuit identifies as entities that manage Bezos’s properties.

The lawsuit was reported earlier by Seattle technology news site GeekWire.

The case is Wedaa v. Bezos, 22-2-18053-6, Superior Court of Washington, King County (Seattle).

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